Gluten free diet is another phrase that gets thrown around a lot. Gluten-free options exist for almost every food, including pizza! It would seem that the food industry has taken note of this very important diet restriction for some people and delivered. The question remains though. What about the rest of us? Should we go gluten-free as well? Is there any benefit? Or should we just not get on that bandwagon and leave it for the ones who REALLY need it, the coeliac sufferers?
The answers to these questions start with first learning a bit about what Gluten actually is.
WHAT IS GLUTEN and WHAT IS COELIAC DISEASE?
Gluten is the name given to some proteins that are found in wheat including barley, rye, and oats. Spelt and other varieties of wheat also contain gluten. It has very little nutritional value. If you are a coeliac sufferer then you have an allergy or an intolerance to these proteins. Approximately 1:70 Australians suffer from Coeliac disease and apparently a lot of people don’t even know they have it or haven’t been officially diagnosed.
There is also what is known as ‘non coeliac gluten sensitivity’
The symptoms of coeliac disease are quite severe that some people need hospitalisation. The immune system reacts against the gluten causing a lot of problems.
These may include:
⇒ intestinal pain or discomfort
⇒ chronic diarrhoea
REASONS FOR GLUTEN INTOLERANCE
There are several theories on why gluten intolerance or Coeliac disease exist and the following are the most talked about.
Firstly the human body hasn’t adequately adapted to these grasses and grains.
Secondly hybridisation of wheat has cause an increased amount of gluten. You need to remember the wheat of 1000’s of years ago is not what you are eating today. Modern wheat strains are created with irradiation of wheat seeds to form mutations. The wheat industry tries to make a product that is beneficial in their manufacturing process, not necessarily for your health benefits.
Thirdly the volume of foods that contain grains or are grain based has increased
GOING GLUTEN FREE & WEIGHT LOSS
As a general rule if you decide to simply substitute your gluten foods with non gluten varieties it is unlikely to have any weight loss benefits. Buying your ‘gluten-free’ breads, pastas, cakes, biscuits and muffins instead of the regular variety isn’t going to cut it. In fact many ‘gluten free’ foods are high in sugar and fat and therefore calories. You might find yourself putting on more weight!
If however you eliminated wheat based foods then you would definitely lose weight as you would automatically reduce your carbohydrates as well. This would almost make your gluten-free diet carb free too. Read all about carbs here and here.
7 GOOD REASONS TO GO GLUTEN (wheat) FREE
1. Wheat is an appetite stimulant. Read about Dr William Davis and his book ‘Wheat belly’ here.
2. Wheat is addictive too! Without confusing all of us with too much science, some components of gluten can cross the blood brain barrier and bind to the brain’s opiate receptors. What this means is that you get a ‘high’ leaving you wanting more. I would say this is definitely true for me!
3. Wheat has starch that causes high blood sugar and therefore high insulin release. Insulin being a huge contributor to weight gain, obesity and the development of diabetes
4. Wheat consists of proteins (WGA) that cause gut inflammation and digestive complaints, as we know with coeliacs, and gluten sensitivities.
5. Leaky gut is associated with wheat. This means certain toxins ‘ leak ‘ into the bloodstream. This is associated with low-grade inflammation, which is an underlying characteristic of heart disease, cancer and autoimmune problems.
6. There is a reduction in the absorption of zinc and iron in the body caused by phytate found in wheat.
7. A high wheat diet is usually high GI. Read about it here.
I don’t know that I would need much more convincing! If you’re anything like me you could probably relate to some of the reasons I have just mentioned. I don’t see going ‘gluten free’ as choosing the ‘gluten free’ pasta instead of the regular one. This is really another argument to support going low processed carb! Most of our processed packaged food has wheat or is wheat based! In conclusion, eliminating processed foods still remains the best thing we can do when it comes to good health. You can read more about going wheat free here.
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